Another pub interviews Gregg Malkary of Spyglass Consulting on his report on RFID
adoption in hospitals. Gregg creates great market study reports, that I
think are much more "actionable" than the reports from vendors like
Frost or Gartner. An excerpt from the story:

Passive RFID, as defined by Malkary,
has to be within approximately 2 feet of the patient, with an RFID
reader integrated into a tablet PC device, PDA or other hand-held
device. Passive RFID, which got its start in warehouses, retail and
military operations, uses RFID tags applied to pallets and other items.
The tags are read by an RFID device as they pass through a portal or
door to the warehouse.

Active RFID, on the other hand, has a
power source or battery attached; if you have power, the object can be
farther away from the reader than a passive system.

RFID is difficult to adopt in health care, Malkary said, because
organizations can’t find a compelling business reason for using the
technology. In addition, he said less expensive alternatives to passive
RFID are turning health care organizations elsewhere.

standards are accepted already and barcoding technology is either
already in the works at many facilities or in the planning stages for
the next few years. The number of hospitals using barcoding for
medication administration jumped from 5 to 20 percent, just in the last
year, according to research,” Malkary said. “Hospitals currently have
barcoding projects in their pipeline as they are deploying new clinical

The main reason that passive RFID typically doesn't pay is because the
therapies, assets, and patients to be tracked have many more routes
through a hospital than products through a factory or distribution
chain. In manufacturing, passive readers are placed at strategic
locations to read tags as they go by - this approach has limited
applicability in health care where patients or assets can be almost
anywhere. This need for more ubiquitous coverage is driving the
adoption of active RFID systems.

[Hat tip: advance for Health Information Executives]